Internal Notes Show Divergence Between Obama, FBI On Whether Russia Helped Trump

Newly released FBI communications from January, 2017 confirm that the Obama administration ignored the FBI's stance on whether Russia tried to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election, and that former FBI agent Peter Strzok was worried that the White House would misconstrue their conclusion, reports The Hill's John Solomon. 

On Dec. 10, 2016, the FBI received an inquiry from a reporter about whether the FBI was uncertain about the emerging conclusion that Russia was trying to help Trump win. The reporter intended to report that FBI counterintelligence was “much less emphatic than the CIA about Russia intent.”

Strzok weighed in to help the FBI press office address the reporter’s question, an email that has now captured congressional investigators' fancy because it states clearly the FBI couldn’t distinguish that any one of three possible motives drove Russia’s meddling.

“The specific point I made was we did not have information to differentiate what their ultimate goal was,” Strzok emailed, adding that then-Director James Comey told Senate Intelligence something similar.

“In other words, the activity is one-sided and clear but we can’t say the sole and primary purpose was specifically intended to help someone, hurt someone else or undermine the process. The reality is all three,” he wrote. -The Hill

It's also clear that the FBI's upper echelon was concerned over sharing information with the White House and then-Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, over fears that it might result in political abuse. 

“He, like us, is concerned with over sharing. Doesn’t want Clapper giving CR cuts to WH. All political, just shows our hand and potentially makes enemies,” Strzok wrote to FBI lawyer Lisa Page on Jan. 3, 2017, relating a conversation he apparently had with then-Assistant Director William Priestap, the top counterintelligence official in the bureau.

Investigators aren’t certain yet what “CR cuts” refers to. Some, though, think it could be a reference to “classified raw” intelligence, such as the unverified Steele dossier or possible intercepts. Others wonder whether it could refer to budget cuts in a "continuing resolution" though no such budget was pending at the time. Whatever the case, the political distrust of colleagues is clear. “WH,” of course, refers to the White House. 

“Yeah, but keep in mind we were going to put that in the doc on Friday, with potentially larger distribution than just the dni,” Page texted back. Strzok answered back, escalating his concerns: “The question is should we, particularly to the entirety of the lame duck usic with partisan axes to grind.” "USIC" is an acronym for the United States Intelligence Community. -The Hill

The FBI's assessment is in stark contrast to the official intelligence assessment from the Obama administration released on January 6, 2017 which declared: "We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him." 

What's more, the National Security Agency (NSA) only had "moderate confidence" that Putin was trying to help Trump win, and the House Intelligence Committee concluded that they couldn't validate Putin's intentions either. 

In January, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) revealed a "jaw-dropping" email written in May 19 of 2017 from Strzok to his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page - which reads: "You and I both know the odds are nothing. If I thought it was likely, I’d be there no question. I hesitate in part because of my gut sense and concern that there’s no big there there."

When asked by the DOJ Inspector General what he meant by that, Strzok said that he couldn't be certain that there was a "broad, coordinated effort" to hijack the election.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general asked Strzok shortly before he was fired from the FBI what he meant by that text, and he offered a most insightful answer.

Strzok said he wasn’t certain there was a “broad, coordinated effort” to hijack the election and that the evidence of Trump campaign aides talking about getting Hillary Clinton dirt from Russians might have been just a “bunch of opportunists” talking to heighten their importance.

Strzok added that, while he raised the idea of impeachment in some of his texts to Page, “I am, again, was not, am not convinced or certain that it will,” he told the IG. -The Hill

And as we reported last week, a newly reported comment made by Page during her May testimony revealed that the FBI had no clue whether there was any collusion between Trumpworld and Russia. What's more, ex-FBI Director James Comey told the Senate shortly after he was fired that there was "not yet evidence to justify investigating Trump for colluding with Russia.

"When I left, we did not have an investigation focused on President Trump," said Comey. 

In short, James Comey, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page have all said or implied that the FBI had nothing linking Trump to Russia. Which, as John Solomon concluded last week, raises the question: If there was no concrete evidence of collusion, why did we need a special prosecutor?

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